Motivational Sports Speeches For Coaches
This is an interesting topic because I'm willing to bet there were some tremendous inspirational speeches made before their were recording devices in everyone's hand.
In today's locker rooms, coaches are often more careful with what they say because they know they're being recorded. A single slip up has consequences, and while every coach wants to "live in the moment," there is probably less spontaneity now than ever before.
With that said, there are a ton of great mash-ups on YouTube, mostly from professional speakers. For today's post, we're not going to go there. Instead, we'll be focused on real coach speeches that have taken place with sports teams across America.
My goal with this article is to help parents, coaches, and players cut through the thousands of videos on YouTube and find some useful clips that you can either repurpose or use yourselves. Put simply, I want to help you get motivated!
A few things to note before we get to the videos:
1. I love how all of these speakers are true to themselves. That means, if you're not normally a yeller, don't pretend to be one at half time. On the flip side, people like Ray Lewis naturally emit a passion and energy that most people don't have. If I want a pump up speech, I'd learn from Ray, but I'm not going to pretend to "be Ray" if that makes sense.
2. Notice the length of these videos. While there's a time and a place for an elongated speech, this isn't it. When you're addressing a team before, during, or after a game, think about what you want them to take away and make your points with clarity. If your goal is a hype speech, this type of address has a time limit so you capture the full attention of your team. Be mindful of that.
3. If you're speaking to a group of strangers, this doesn't apply. However, if you're speaking to YOUR team, build trust with your players so that they can hear you. We listen to people that we trust and respect. If you're the most eloquent speaker in the world, a team may still not listen if they don't really know you. If you watch the Pat Summitt halftime speech video, pay particular attention to the part when she asks her players what they're seeing. That simple question says so much about what Coach Summitt had going at Tennessee:
"I'm asking because I care about your opinions."
"I value your input."
"We're in this together."
Last, think about what you want your team to take away. If you're giving a motivational football speech, the goal may be for the locker room to explode in enthusiasm. You're part coach/part hype man. If you're addressing a basketball team at halftime, the message, tone, and goals are probably different. Sometimes, it's absolute necessary to stir up a frenzy; other times, it's best to get people's undivided attention and teach and instruct.
With that said, enjoy the videos below.
The Best Motivational Speeches for Athletes
Ray Lewis: Passion is Free
Ray Lewis also wrote a best-selling book. When people ask about athletic motivational videos, Ray immediately comes to mind.
JSM Productions: We Strike Back
One of the great motivational sports speeches, this one gave me goosebumps.
Kara Lawson: Handle Hard Better
"Most people think it's going to get easier. It will never get easier. What happens is you handle hard better."
What an incredible message from Duke women's basketball coach, Kara Lawson, who ironically played college basketball for Pat Summitt and Tennessee.
Alan Stein Jr.
Alan Stein is the author of two excellent books, written after his experiences training some of the best basketball players in the world, including Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. Alan's ability to blend sports and business is a gift, and his passion for both is evident when he speaks.
Pat Summitt Inspiring Halftime Speech
Pat Summitt's book, Sum It Up is one of the best basketball books that I've read, and we discuss it more here. Pat could get in your face in one moment and then give you a hug the next. She's given thousands of sports motivational speeches over the years, but I like this one because it humanizes her.
Jesse Itzler: The Words That We Speak Matter
Jesse Itzler is an incredible entrepreneur, endurance athlete, and motivator. A lot of you might click on this and think, "9 minutes?! I don't have time to watch this."
Take the time. It's awesome, uplifting, incredibly motivating, and one of the best speeches I've heard on any topic. While this one probably isn't on a lot of best sports speeches lists, it should be. I've learned a lot from Jesse, and you and your players will too.
Jesse has also written two best-selling books:
Deion Sanders: We Here
Coach Prime has taken college football by storm. From telling the nation, "We Comin'" back in the spring to "We Here" before Colorado's first game against TCU, there aren't many better football motivational speeches than what we witnessed from Coach Sanders before and during his first game with the Buffaloes.
Deion has evolved quite a bit since his first book back in 1999. A new book, Coach Prime, will be released on October 10, 2023.
Monty Williams: Everything You Want Is On The Other Side Of Hard
Monty Williams addressed his Phoenix Suns team after the Milwaukee Bucks tied the series during the 2021 NBA Finals. Speaking to professional athletes and grown men or women is hard; Williams is succint, direct, and delivers an actionable message.
P.J. Fleck: Be You
Half speech, half hype video.
"When your family, when your wife, when your kids need you, you have to be at your best!"
The first 47 seconds of this will fuel you for the rest of the day. I'm not a Minnesota fan, but it's hard not to be after watching this motivational speech.
Whether you watched all of these or just a part of one, I hope you took something from it. So much of what we do and how we do it is based on how we think, and how we think is either continuously evolving (or not) based on who and what we interact with. Whether you're coaching baseball, football, soccer, or something else, the source of inspiration can come from another sports. Coaching is coaching, and I've learned a lot as a basketball coach over the years by observing coaches in other sports.
For more motivation, check out the Motivation section of our blog.
For book recommendations, check out our favorite motivational books here.
Last, I recently published an article about the best books to read together as a team. If you've ever thought about a book club or team read, I share my thoughts and best practices.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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